Dueling Conventions of Love and Hate: Comic Con vs The Republican National Convention

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The best horror movie of the last week has been the Republican National Convention. The event pushed the narrative that we are all part of a huge battle between the “real” Americans and…well, everybody else. There are the Muslims who supposedly hate us, the immigrants and criminals who are more prevalent than ever (or at least it “feels” that way, which New Gingrich says is more important than facts), and the dastardly liberals and their Lucifer-following ways. It all painted a picture of a society on the brink of collapse, unless an orange, toupeed “blue-collar billionaire” can come to our rescue.

And yet, at the same time, another gathering suggested that maybe all of the above blustering is a crock of shit. The San Diego Comic Con kicked off on the night of July 20th, just as the Republican National Convention was winding down. The massive convention center south of San Diego’s Gaslamp District flooded with an irresponsibly large body of fans, all of whom had happily made their pilgrimage to the event.

To call this collective of fans diverse is an understatement. Despite popular assumptions that fandom is driven by immature men, the gender breakdown at the convention is roughly equal. Unlike the Republican National Convention, which appears to be a sea of old white faces, people of all races and colors are present. The age range encompasses everybody from 1 to 80. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Atheists…it doesn’t matter. Everybody of all ages, colors, and religions are coming together for a shared love of storytelling.

It’s hard to describe the sense of community and love that exists at a convention this size to somebody who hasn’t attended. The San Diego Convention Center becomes a sacred place where you can turn to anybody in this sea of people and expect to have a nice conversation. It doesn’t matter if you’re there for comics, or movies, or television, or video games, or if you share any of the same specific interests within those mediums. Every single person surrounding you is passionate enough about something that they’ve come to this place, and that shared love creates a positive environment even in the face of absurdly long lines, ridiculous food prices, and a near-complete lack of personal space. People are coming from all over the world, yet nobody is a stranger.

It’s all a testament to the power of storytelling, really. We may not all look the same, and we may grow up in radically different places with different values, but we can all appreciate powerful drama, or a good laugh. Through these stories, we can empathize with each other and become closer, rather than positioning each other as alien and driving us apart. We can sit in an auditorium of thousands to cheer on the idea of a bulletproof black man, or consider the ways that media and technology have supplanted religion, or rejoice that the most badass hero of the show is a woman. Despite the specificity of many of these projects, they welcome outsiders to share in their worldviews. They provoke understanding, acceptance, and celebration of our differences.

Which brings us back to the Republican Convention. It’s easy to rally a body of like-minded individuals by speaking directly to them and validating their particular fears and worldviews. Donald Trump has gotten far into his campaign by doing exactly this, and it’s been a frighteningly effective tactic. But when the world seems more divisive than ever, remember that we all have stories. We may fight, but we all love, we all laugh, and we are all capable of caring about others, regardless of our differences. Instead of closing each other off, let’s share those stories. Let’s find heroes of all different backgrounds to love and rally behind. The world needs it.

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